Sometimes, you just have to eat the kale.

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This past week we had... an experience.  Mind you, this experience has taken many forms over the past few years each involving the following factors: Dinner, a vegetable and Grayson.  While these three things separated, are generally uneventful, their combo this week was quite the opposite. 

Before I begin, I want to just stop and explain a few things about my home and how it’s ran.  Our children eat what we eat.  When Julie and I want a hamburger and fries, we all eat hamburgers and fries.  When we want a salad, the kids will eat a salad.  In the event of a compromise, a peanut butter sandwich usually suffices.  Additionally, we discipline our kids our way. It may be different than your method and by the end of this you might feel the need to say, “it's not worth it,” or “I would never make my child,” etc.  Well, my response is - not everyone needs to get a trophy and we aren’t raising weak children who have everything handed to them.  We are raising lion chasers and in order to do that, they need to know how to overcome adversity.  Even when that adversary is a vegetable. 🙂 . 

It was Monday evening, we started fixing dinner a little later than usual due to a grocery run, but non the less, it was being made.  On the menu in Chef Boy-R-Delk's house was beef stroganoff and sautéed kale.  You read that right, sautéed kale as a side.  I made the egg noodles, and finished the sauce for the beef to soak in.  It was my first-time making beef stroganoff and I have to say, it was tasty.  While that was simmering on the stove top, I got my pot out and put in some chopped onion and chopped bacon.  Added a splash of chicken broth and it started to boil, I opened my bag of chopped kale and began to put in handfuls until it was cooked down.  It came time to eat and I called everyone into the dining room.  Conrad proceeded to his chair and Grayson did likewise.  Julie brought Jovie in with her because we are fully convinced Jovie has a 6th sense for when Julie is not in the room with her, and we sat down to our plates.   

On each plate, there was a proportionately appropriate amount of egg noodles with the beef stroganoff poured over it.  A nice helping of sautéed kale for myself and Julie rounded out the meal.  For Grayson and Conrad, I also fixed their plate, but I was very methodical about it.  Conrad had his portion of stroganoff with approx. one tablespoon of sautéed kale.  Grayson had his portion of stroganoff with two tablespoons of sautéed kale.  What ensued next had yet to occur in our house.  But needless to say, it’s blog worthy. 

It’s important to understand the time and keep track of its progress as I proceed with the story. 

We began eating around 7:25 p.m.   

It started out as a normal meal.  We ate, talked and genuinely enjoyed each other's company.  I actually enjoy sautéed kale (add bacon, all I'm saying) and I was pleased with my first attempt at beef stroganoff.  Julie seemed pleased with the meal too so that was a win.  Conrad went into the classic two-year-old – I’ll mix everything up on my plate method- and it worked, he ate all his noodles and his kale, he left a few pieces of meat, but literally everything else.  After he was dismissed from the table, I was gathering up dishes and putting them in the sink when I heard it.  The words that once verbalized set in motion a chain of events that either end badly or quickly, there's no in-between.  I heard Julie say, “Grayson, eat your vegetables.” The time was 7:45 p.m. 

At the time, I didn’t think anything about it, I was putting up dishes, and moving things around in their proper place.  I had just put the leftovers in the fridge when I heard, “You can sit here all night if you want to, but you’re going to eat your kale.  It’s literally two bites.”  It was now 7:53 p.m.  For whatever reason, call it a stubborn 8-year-old, call it a “Classic 3rd grader” or call it whatever you want, Grayson was refusing to eat his vegetables.  I peaked in from the kitchen, as Julie was clearly handling the situation.  Grayson had a limp hold onto the stem of his fork doing the proverbial “I don’t want to eat this” tap on his food.  Mama wasn’t having it.  “Eat Grayson!”  With that, Grayson did what his mother wanted, he put the veggie on the fork and took a bite, only, he put ALL the kale in his mouth.  This resulted in one tablespoon of kale being shifted to his left cheek and one tablespoon of kale to his right cheek - that’s right, the boy looked like a kale eating chipmunk.  It was now 7:58 p.m. 

Over the course of the next 42 minutes...Grayson sat there.  With kale in his mouth.  He would summon enough courage every now and then and say things like “It’s hard, can I spit it out?” or “Do I have to swallow the kale?”  Each question was met with a response from his mother, “Swallow the kale so you can go to bed, it’s not that hard Grayson, just do it!”  Grayson would not.  Bribery took hold of Julie around 8:40 p.m.  They had visited Julie’s grandparents earlier in the day and as always, Grandma Shirley made homemade biscuits with mayhaw jelly.  Grayson’s favorite.  Grayson had brought one biscuit home in hopes of having a snack later in the day.  Julie took that biscuit and heated it up.  Placing it in front of Grayson she said, “Swallow your kale, and you can have this biscuit.”  Grayson still refused.  I had cleaned up the kitchen and put away a load of clothes when I realized Grayson was STILL sitting there in his full kale-chipmunk faced regalia.  Julie had fed Jovie while sitting there and at this time, we were beyond ready to go to bed.  I realized what was happening, and knew something drastic had to take place, additionally, I was just fed up with Grayson not minding.  So, I marched into the dining room, picked up the biscuit, turned my back to Grayson and took a bite as I walked into the kitchen.  It was 8:49 p.m. 

Incoming! Trash talk from lil brother in 3..2..1…

Incoming! Trash talk from lil brother in 3..2..1…

I didn’t really eat the biscuit.  But Grayson didn’t need to know that.  He just needed to think I had and learn that when asked to do something, he needs to do it, or else consequences occur.  He did get mad though, so mad that he jumped from a seated position in the air a couple of times to show us his anger.  He couldn’t talk at this point due to the kale/saliva mix that was now present in his mouth.  His anger was noted.  I came back in the dining room and told Grayson to get out of the seat at the table and sit in the chair in the corner, to stare at the wall until he swallowed the kale.  The time was 8:53 p.m. 

On the bottom half of the picture there is a piece of blurred black fabric.  That would be Conrad, dressed in his Batman cape running into the dining room.  Zooming in on Grayson you can see his hands on his head, completely distraught.  I wish I had videoed this instead of taking the picture because Conrad runs up to Grayson and completely taunts him saying, “EAT YOURS KALE BUBBA! I ate mine” then he runs away, leaving Grayson there to contemplate his decisions and get trash talked by a two-year-old.   

It was after 9 p.m. at this point when I brought the uneaten biscuit back into the dining room for Grayson to see.  I said, “By the way, I didn’t eat your biscuit.  You can have it if you do what was asked.  Otherwise, you can sleep in that chair.”  See, Grayson knows I'm not playing, he tested me once before a couple of years ago with two florets of broccoli.  I won that one, and he knew it.  It was now 9:13 p.m. 

I was sitting in the dining room, waiting, when Grayson FINALLY swallowed the kale.  He got up from the chair, walked triumphantly to his biscuit and ate it.  It was 9:27 p.m.  He got ready for bed and the next night I was cooking dinner and asked Grayson if he was going to eat his vegetables, he said “Oh yes sir, I learned my lesson last night with the kale.”  That’s a win. 

I got to thinking about this whole scenario and how easy it is for us to sit here and say one of two things:  1 -Just swallow the kale and get it over with it. Or 2- Just give up and let them spit it out.  But life isn’t like that.  Life throws you some nasty pills you have to swallow from time to time and you have to make the same choice.  Do you go ahead and swallow it, or do you let it set it in your mouth, changing forms, affecting everything around you and keeping you from moving on.  For Grayson, he had to get through the Kale to get up from the table.  Once he was up from the table, he got what he really wanted which was a tasty biscuit.  Makes you think...  

I wonder how many adults are sitting where they are right now just chewing kale...chewing, chewing and never swallowing it, in order to move on with their lives. 

How many are stuck in a rut at work, and just can't get over decisions that were made or can’t get over a promotion they didn’t get, and they are just chewing, chewing, chewing and never moving on.  

How many adults are still “chewing” on a past relationship they can’t get over?  Just chewing, chewing and chewing and never moving on.   

How many adults are still “Chewing” on someone’s actions that hurt their feelings or harmed them in some way and they can’t move on...just chewing and chewing. 

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is, you can sit there and stew over things you don’t want to do, or things that, at the time, aren't fun.  But sometimes you have to go through those things to learn, to grow, to move on. 

Whatever your “Kale” is, we may not like it, we may even hate it, but sometimes, you just have to eat the kale. 

Russell DelkComment